Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s ‘KALIA’ (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) package for farmers evoked sharp criticism from the Congress, the BJP, and farmers’ outfit Nabanirman Krushak Sangathan on Saturday with Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi quipping ‘Rip Van Winkle woke up after 20 years, in this case, it is 19 years.’

Singhvi also took a serious exception to the acronym “KALIA” drawing attention to its religious connotation and the obvious attempt to connect with people for cheap politics. The letter “k” in it is in Hindi and the rest are English, the acronym is by which Lord Jagannath is known and revered across the country and world, he said.

Reacting to CM Patnaik’s charge that farm loan waiver by the Congress governments has led to bankruptcy, Singhvi said he should first explain how and why he took 19 years to wake up to farmers’ distress.

The CM is the one who indulges in double speak and sheds crocodile tears for farmers, chided Singhvi.

Citing an instance of ‘classic double standards’ of the CM, he said the Odisha assembly adopted a unanimous resolution demanding MSP for paddy to be fixed at Rs 2930 per quintal. The committee of the Assembly sought an appointment with the PM Narendra Modi but he refused.

It was an insult to the entire state and the farmers of the state, but the CM went on to reward the PM and the central government by walking out of parliament on the no-trust motion.

This is the kind of hypocrisy that CM Naveen Patnaik has indulged in over the years and has hoodwinked the people of the state, he charged.

In his reaction to KALIA scheme, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said it was yet another stunt to befool farmers of the state who are seeking answers from the Naveen Patnaik government.

Pradhan said the BJD had failed and betrayed the farmers for 19 years – it had promised 35 per cent irrigation in each block, cold storages, and mega lift irrigation points – none of it has been fulfilled.

The Potato Mission, Onion Mission have all failed in the state – there is no storage for the produce and no market link, he charged.

Akshay Kumar, leader of the Nabanirman Krushak Sangathan, held a press conference to question the KALIA scheme and said there is no separate budgetary provision for it and that it was the diversion of funds from various other schemes. The Nabard fund for livelihood, the MGNREGA etc. which already exist have been re-packaged and announced under a new acronym.

He wondered why the government did not extend a farm loan waiver or provide social security/pension to farmers. The only reason is that for such measures it could not have diverted funds from other schemes, he added.

It may be noted here that CM Naveen Patnaik announced the KALIA scheme on Friday providing financial assistance of Rs 5000 each for khariff and rabi crop to farmers without linking it to the ownership of land, livelihood support to 10 lakh landless households with Rs 12,500 per household for goat rearing, fishery etc., annual assistance of Rs 10,000 per household for vulnerable landless agriculture labourers, and life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh.

The CM had claimed that the package is historic and much better and bigger than farm loan waiver which would have helped only 8 lakh of the 32 lakh farmers in the state. He had also stated that enhancement of MSP was the job of the central government and the BJP led government had failed to keep its promise in this regard.